49ers camp report (817): Two-way rookies

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49ers camp report (817): Two-way rookies

Aug. 17, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
Practice No. 14
Summary: The 49ers added a veteran quarterback to the mix, as Josh McCown worked out in the morning, signed a one-year contract and appeared on the practice field wearing No. 9. McCown took a dozen practice snaps with the second-team offensive line. Safety Dashon Goldson greeted McCown with an interception on a pass intended for tight end Nate Lawrie.

The 49ers had problems with five center-quarterback exchanges during the day. Two of the fumbled exchanges involved McCown and center Tony Wragge. Presumptive starter Alex Smith was at quarterback for the other three poor exchanges. He and Jonathan Goodwin had two fumbles on snaps, while Adam Snyder delivered a low shotgun snap to him on another occasion.

The 49ers worked on the down-field passing game, as each of the quarterbacks had success with deep post routes. Undrafted rookie McLeod Bethel-Thompson beat the 49ers' first-team coverage of Tarell Brown with a well-thrown deep ball to receiver Tyler Beiler.

NEWS: 49ers sign third-string QB McCown from UFL
Multiple positions: Draft picks Colin Jones and Bruce Miller saw their first on the other side of the ball during practice Wednesday. Jones was drafted as a safety and special-teams ace. But at practice, he lined up at wide receiver after seeing very few reps over the first three weeks at safety. "I'm just helping them out," Jones said. Jones was the intended receiver on several pass plays, had a couple passes in his hands but failed to make the catches. Miller, a defensive end and Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year at Central Florida, saw some work with the scout team defense at outside linebacker. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said versatility is an important quality when it comes to deciding which players will remain on the final 53-man roster. "The next step is to see if he has the ability to help us out," Fangio said. "It's much too early to say."Offensive Play of the day: The first-team offense got the 11-on-11 portion of practice going on a good note when Smith hit Ted Ginn for a 50-yard pass against the coverage of scout-team cornerback Phillip Davis.Defensive Play of the day: Cornerback Phillip Adams continues to show nice progress from the broken ankle he sustained at the end of last season. He intercepted Colin Kaepernick on a pass intended for Kyle Williams.Injury report: CB Carlos Rogers, CB Shawntae Spencer (left hamstring), FS Reggie Smith (right knee) and WR Chris Hogan (left ankle) did not practice. . . . WR Michael Crabtree (left foot) and WR Dominique Zeigler (left knee) are on physically-unable-to-perform list. . . . TE Nate Byham (torn left ACL) is out for the season. WR Dontavia Bogan (torn right ACL) and CB Curtis Holcomb (ruptured left Achilles tendon) have been placed on injured reserve.

Arm strength: Kaepernick produced one of the best throws of camp when he unleashed a 30-yard pass to tight end Vernon Davis that was on a straight line. The pass hit Davis in stride against the coverage of cornerback Corey Nelms.Personnel report: McCown is the newest addition to the team, and will compete for the job as the No. 3 quarterback. He was in the NFL for eight seasons, including the first four with the Arizona Cardinals. He started 22 games with the Cardinals, including 13 in 2004. He also played for Detroit, the Raiders and Carolina. McCown completed 57.7 percent of his 1,058 NFL passing attempts with 35 touchdowns and 40 interceptions. His career passer rating is 71.3. In 2009, his last season in the NFL, he completed just one of six attempts with the Panthers. Most recently, he played for Hartford of the UFL.Eye on reps: Snyder has played center and right guard during camp. On Wednesday, he saw action at left guard, too. When starter Mike Iupati missed some practice time while his right ankle was getting re-wrapped, Snyder stepped in with the first team at left guard. . . . Rookie Mike Person, who has worked primarily at right tackle, took some snaps at left guard.Corner the market: The 49ers' two most-experienced cornerbacks, Carlos Rogers and Shawntae Spencer, are out with injuries. So who takes over if those two players remain out for a while? "That remains to be seen," Fangio said. Tramaine Brock, who started last week in place of Spencer, has put together a good camp. Tarell Brown and rookie Chris Culliver are also seeing a lot of action in practice, too. Next practice: The 49ers are scheduled for another three-hour practice on Thursday, beginning at 2:30 p.m. The practice is scheduled to be the final workout of the summer that is open to the public.

Colts fire GM Ryan Grigson after five seasons

Colts fire GM Ryan Grigson after five seasons

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ryan Grigson spent tens of millions in free agency, trying to turn the Indianapolis Colts into a Super Bowl contender.

When most of those big investments went belly up, the first-time general manager paid the price.

On Saturday, Colts owner Jim Irsay fired Grigson after five up-and-down years that ended with Indy missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1997-98.

"It was a tough decision, well thought out and in the end the right decision for the Colts," Irsay said.

Initially, Grigson looked like a genius.

He hit it big on his first four draft picks - quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen and receiver T.Y. Hilton - and used a series of shrewd, cost-effective moves to deliver one of the greatest turnarounds in league history.

But when Grigson's costly misfires like first-round bust Bjoern Werner in 2013, trading a first-round pick for Trent Richardson in 2014 or loading up on a group of aging, high-priced free agents to make a Super Bowl run in 2015 and an anxious fan base, Irsay had no choice.

The timing, almost three weeks after the season ended, was strange - and comes after many thought the delay meant Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano were both safe.

Each agreed to contracts last January that was supposed to keep them together through the 2019 season.

Thirteen months later, Grigson is gone and Pagano's fate may rest in the hands of a new GM.

Grigson, by trade, was a gambler who refused to play it safe.

"I think the guys that sit on their hands, they've got to live with themselves and look in the mirror and realize they didn't take any chances," he once said. "They've got to look at themselves and say, 'Did I even deserve this opportunity?' If you just sit on your hands and say, 'I'm going to play it safe all the time,' you might be middle of the pack. But if you don't take a swing, you're never going to hit it out of the park."

Irsay appreciated Grigson's unconventional style and penchant for taking chances.

What he didn't like was the underwhelming payout.

In five seasons, Grigson made 15 trades for players and only one, Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis, played in Indy's season finale. Grigson also drafted 38 players - 18 of whom finished the season with the Colts. Eleven were out of the NFL.

Then there was free agency, where Grigson signed dozens of expensive players. Only 11 were still on Indy's roster when the season ended, 18 others were out of the NFL.

With an estimated $60 million to spend in free agency this year and a chance to get the Colts righted for the prime years of Luck's career, Irsay couldn't afford to roll the dice again with Grigson so he made the change.

The 44-year-old Purdue graduate's blunt personality didn't always mesh with coach Chuck Pagano. Irsay even acknowledged last summer that the two men needed to resolve their differences before he gave them the extensions.

Players didn't always get along with him, either.

"Thank God. 'Unwarranted Arrogance' just ran into a brick wall called karma," Pro Bowl punter Pat McAfee posted on Twitter after word first leaked.

Grigson also drew the wrath of Patriots' fans by tipping off NFL officials that Tom Brady was using improperly inflated footballs during the 2015 AFC championship game. The Deflategate controversy eventually led to a four-game suspension for Brady as well as a fine and the loss draft picks for the Patriots.

And despite Irsay's repeated pleas to better protect Luck, Grigson, a former offensive lineman, never quite figured it out.

Luck missed 10 games because of injuries over the past two seasons and was sacked 41 times last season. The first real glimmer of hope appeared in December when the Colts held Minnesota and Oakland without a sack in back-to back games - the only times all season they didn't allow a sack.

When Grigson arrived, the Colts were coming off a 2-14 season and were about to release Peyton Manning and several other aging veterans in a salary cap purge.

So Grigson cleaned house.

He fired Jim Caldwell, hired Pagano and revamped the roster with low-budget free agents to work with the cornerstone of the future, Luck.

It worked. The man once dubbed by a previous boss as a "great" expansion team general manager, turned the Colts into a surprising 11-5 playoff-bound team.

Indy finished 11-5 each of the next two seasons, too, and advanced one step deeper in the playoffs each season.

The steady progression turned the Colts into a trendy Super Bowl pick in 2015, a trek that was derailed by a litany of injuries that forced the Colts to use five different quarterbacks just to finish 8-8.

Waiting for Shanahan could be a good thing for 49ers

Waiting for Shanahan could be a good thing for 49ers

The 49ers were willing to be patient in securing their next head coach.

Depending on the outcome of the Atlanta Falcons’ game Sunday against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game, they could be required to wait another two weeks.

The other five organizations with vacancies after the regular season have filled their head-coach positions with four assistants from teams that did not qualify for the playoffs and former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, whom the Denver Broncos hired after his team was bounced in the AFC wild-card round.

Early in the 49ers’ search to replace Chip Kelly, the top targets appeared to be Josh McDaniels and Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinators for two of the top-three scoring teams in the NFL.

The coach-general manager team of McDaniels and New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio was the runaway favorite to be the package deal, according to sources close to the 49ers’ coaching search.

But when Caserio chose to remain as Bill Belichick’s top personnel lieutenant – just has he has in the past when other opportunities presented themselves – the job became less attractive to McDaniels, according to those sources. McDaniels announced on Monday he would remain with the Patriots for at least another year.

With McDaniels out of the picture, Shanahan became the clear favorite over Seattle assistant Tom Cable. And once Cable publicly stepped aside due to suspicions he was only being used to secure a commitment from Shanahan, only one candidate remained for the job.

Since the middle of this week, Shanahan has been the presumptive coach of the 49ers. Falcons coach Dan Quinn was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator two years ago when he was officially hired just hours after the Super Bowl. He knows he drill. And this week he announced to the Falcons staff that Shanahan would be the next coach of the 49ers, according to the NFL Network.

Regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game, the 49ers will be allowed to interview Shanahan next week – most likely, Tuesday in Atlanta. Shanahan will be involved in the process to hire the next general manager. Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton appears to be the favorite. The 49ers expect the general manager position to be filled early in the week.

If the Falcons lose, the 49ers would be able to hire Shanahan on their own time frame. It would not be expected to take long.

But if the Falcons win, the 49ers would have to wait until after Feb. 5, when the Super Bowl will be played in Houston, to hire Shanahan.

There is an advantage to being forced to wait. In the long term, the 49ers could benefit from their next head coach gaining the experience of a Super Bowl week and calling a game on the biggest stage in all of sports.